A study of the world’s forests has found a 50 per cent rise in sustainably managed tropical woodlands since 2005, helped by rising demand in developed countries for certified wood and UN programmes to reduce carbon emissions.
The International Tropical Timber Organisation, an intergovernmental body promoting conservation and sustainable management, evaluated forest management in 33 countries, comprising 90 per cent of the tropical forest cover. The result was the 420-page report Status of Tropical Forest Management 2011, the Tokyo-based group’s second assessment of policy.
Between 2005 and 2010, the area of natural tropical forest under sustainable management rose from 36m hectares (89m acres) to 53m hectares (134m acres), an area about the size of Thailand, it found.
However, the report, funded by the Swiss and Japanese governments, also noted that more than 90 per cent of the world’s tropical forests, or about 685m hectares, are not managed sustainably and are at risk.
“It’s a strong rise, but it’s still very small in relation to the whole,” said Duncan Poore, co-author of the report and an ecologist who specialises in land use. “There is a long, long way to go. It is a considerable improvement, brought on by the recognition of governments that [sustainable forestry] is the sensible thing to do.”
“In some countries, we are certainly seeing a move toward the production of certified, higher-value products that would capitalise on an emerging ‘green economy’ and potentially help secure strong markets for sustainable tropical timber,” said co-author Jürgen Blaser of the Swiss Foundation for Development and International Cooperation.